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Asimov's Science Fiction – March 2009 – Vol. 33 No. 3 – (Whole Number 398)
Edited by Sheila Williams
Cover Artist: Donato Giancola
Review by Sam Tomaino
Asimov's Science Fiction  ISBN/ITEM#: 1065-2698
Date: 27 January 2009 / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The March 2009 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction has stories by Nancy Kress, Holly Phillips, Harry Turtledove, R. Neube, Sara Genge, and Benjamin Crowell.

Asimov's Science Fiction 's March 2009 issue is another pretty good one with all the stories enjoyable.

The issue begins with its novella, "Act One" by Nancy Kress. It takes place some 20-30 years in the future and genetic modification has been refined. Jane Snow is an actress in her 50's and her manager is Barry Tenler, a man afflicted with a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. For a movie that Jane is planning to do, they meet with a group that promotes babies to be illegally modified with "Arlen's Syndrome", which makes them able to understand people's body language and know what they are thinking. This sets off a series of events that examines issues of genetic modification and other medical issues. Kress creates some good characters here and the story is a memorable one.

R. Neube's "Intelligence" is an amusing tale of the life of Aaron, who is a companion to an artificial intelligence named Bob. Bob is always talking Aaron into doing oddball things, partly because "he" has trouble distinguishing lies from deceit on the Internet. This one was a lot of fun.

In "The Long, Cold Goodbye", Holly Phillips gives us Berd, a woman in a world succumbing to ice and cold. She searches for Sele, the man she has loved for her whole life. We are taken on a tour of a cold, haunted world in this beautifully written, melancholy tale.

"Slow Stampede" by Sara Genge is set in a world with swampiphants and Merpeople. Raj wants to be the Chief of his village and plots ways to do it. How things work out for him make for a nicely-told little story.

Benjamin Crowell's "Whatness" takes place after our universe has ceased to exist. A being from another universe has rescued a man and his dog from it. It is trying its best to make a nice substitute world for them both. This one had a clever ending.

We are told in the introduction to "Getting Real" by Harry Turtledove, that it is "a vision of a deeply disturbing future". Turtledove shows us a Los Angeles in 2117, when America has ceased to be a world power (but won't admit it) and China dominates them. They even send "avatars" that peddle a square of material called Real that saps the productivity out of people like drugs. "Real" is not really a drug but something that transports people to a virtual reality world better than the one they are in. The U.S. cannot do anything to stop it. Turtledove lay the irony on thick but that only makes the story better.

Asimov's Science Fiction continues to delight. You should really subscribe.

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